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Salt to the Sea

Salt to the Sea
Written by Ruta Sepetys
Puffin £7.99
ISBN: 978-0141347400

This harrowing and engrossing story recounts the relatively unknown tragedy that befell thousands of refugees fleeing from the invading Russian army during WWII. They were desperate to reach the ship the Wilhelm Gustloff and its apparent safety, but, most died when the ship was sunk before it even left port.

Ruta Sepetys, author of Between Shades of Grey, has painstakingly researched this tragic historic event into which she has woven the story of four young people, each travelling to reach the coast with a burden to carry and a secret to hide. We follow the intertwining journeys of a young nurse hiding her past, a disturbed young Nazi, a polish girl trying to conceal her pregnancy and a young man carrying a stolen treasure. Also travelling are an elderly shoemaker and a solitary boy. They all gather unexpected strength from each other as they are challenged by hunger, bitter cold and the debilitating fear of the enemy pursuing them.

The suspense is maintained throughout. This is not a story for the faint-hearted as Ruta Sepetys portrays every aspect of human nature, but with such sensitivity that her characters are completely believable. We are caught up in their story and really care about what happens to them.

Louise Stothard


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